Choosing Your Next 4-Legged Friend

Did you know that there is a Baby Boom going on? Puppies and kittens galore!!! Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, is getting a new furry family member. But how do you really know if you should get a puppy or a kitten? And what breed?! Where to purchase?! The list literally could go on and on. Take heart and know that I have complied my pearls of wisdom on “How To” pick the right next 4-legged forever friend.

1. Puppies vs. Kittens.

Both are super-duper cute but offer very different styles of companionship as well as owner commitments. Puppies in general require far more owner commitment with regards to training compared to kittens. Potty training and socialization are the 2 biggest hurdles to jump over during the first 16 weeks of a puppy’s life. This really requires you as the owner to be “all in” with regard to the efforts needed to train your perfect pooch to eliminate outside. Ask yourself, “Am I ready for 3 a.m. potty breaks and potty accidents?” Puppy socialization is a HUGE owner’s commitment to ensure that your puppy is not fearful as an adult. Fear-based phobias and aggression are the most common behavioral derangement veterinarians see and can be dramatically reduced should the pet have been properly socialized between the ages of 8-16 weeks. Conversely, kittens seldom need training when it comes to using the litter pan. They really seem to take to a litter pan as a duck takes to swimming in water. Occasionally kittens that are bottle-fed do not get the appropriate social interactions with their mother, which then can lead to aggressive behaviors.

In all honesty, puppies require hours…and hours of hands-on effort. Kittens require a tenth of this time commitment. Ask yourself, which one will be the best fit within your current life commitments?

2. What breed fits you best?

Most cats are considered “Domestic Short or Long Haired” unless of course, they are from a breeder. Depending upon which registry you look at, there are between 15 and 71 different cat breeds! Research the breed dominant traits to learn if a specific breed aligns more with what you are looking for in your furry companion. Domestic Short and Long-Haired cats have a variety of different personalities and it is hard to really know exactly what personality you are going to get based solely on the length of the hair coat! I find that simply meeting the kitten will really show if this little one is super playful or more docile.

Dog breed registries list between 190 and 360 different accredited breeds! I find this to be quite overwhelming and really recommend learning more about the 7 different dog classifications. Sporting, Hound, Terrier, Herding, Working, Non-Sporting, and Toy are the 7 dog classifications. Based upon the class that best fits your desires, research the different breeds within the classification. Do not be mistaken, mixed breed dogs are just as wonderful as purebreds. They can display multiple different desirable traits based upon their genetic mix. Ask yourself if you want a dog that needs LOTS of exercise or not….as well as if you want a dog that will need to be groomed regularly…and how big or small would you prefer.

3. Where can I purchase my chosen companion?

Depending upon your choice of purebred or mixed, you will be lead down 2 different paths. Mixed breed puppies and kittens are commonly purchased through rescues and shelters. What a wonderful way to bring a bundle of joy into your home. Purebred animals can be purchased through a 3rd party vendor OR direct from the breeder. I always caution a client from purchasing from a vendor as you likely will not be able to meet both parents (super important when choosing a puppy to determine demeanor) and these are higher risk puppy mill offspring. If you want a purebred puppy or kitten, search the AKC website for registered breeders near you. ALWAYS get references from previous purchasers and meet the puppy parents!

It can be overwhelming when you decide to take the leap into puppy or kitten ownership. I always recommend seeking the professional advice of your trusted veterinarian to help guide you on your mission. Remember, a pet is a financial and emotional commitment for the life of the pet. Thoughtfully ponder these points as you make your decision. And remember, animals can bring such joy to our lives and give us true unconditional love. What a wonderful gift in such a time as now.